The GDELT+BigQuery video

Understanding the World with SQL


GDELT is a unique dataset. In its almost 300 million rows, it indexes all the last 35 years of news it has found. Its creator, Kalev Leetaru, wanted to freely share this vault of data with the world, but there wasn’t an easy way — until he discovered Google BigQuery. Since then Kalev has hosted the GDELT Event Database on BigQuery, giving everyone the ability to instantly and quickly analyze this dataset.

Just to give an example of the power of GDELT — You can use a SQL query like this to get the timeline for any country — in this example, Chile:

SELECT TIMESTAMP(STRING(MonthYear)+’01') month,
SUM(ActionGeo_CountryCode=’CI’)/COUNT(*) Chile,
FROM [gdelt-bq:full.events]
WHERE MonthYear>0
GROUP BY month
ORDER BY month

The peaks on the timeline indicate events that captured worldwide attention. Highlighted in the timeline: October 1988 is when Chile voted against Augusto Pinochet extending his government. March 2010 marked the 6th largest earthquake ever recorded, and October 2010 is the month when 33 Chilean miners were buried alive (but only for a while).

Where else can you visualize the historic timeline of any country with just one SQL query?

I sat down with Kalev in Washington D.C. to discuss the power of GDELT combined with BigQuery. I’m very happy to share with you this video of our conversation — and much more. Take a look, and feel free to share it with the world:

In this video, you’ll meet Kalev Leetaru — the creator of the GDELT project, Louisa Koch — NOAA Education Director, and Amanda Traud — Data Scientist at L-3 Data Tactics. Together they highlight how government, academia, industry and end users can benefit from GDELT.

And the GDELT story doesn’t stop there. After shooting the video, I’ve learned about many other interesting use cases. Jeff Feng shows us how to connect Tableau to BigQuery to intuitively dig into GDELT. At BBVA — a global financial group –- top economists use GDELT to analyze global geopolitical risks. Four researchers in New Zealand produced a Multi-level Analysis of Peace and Conflict Data in GDELT. Can GDELT be used to advise world leaders? Brian Clifton would answer yes. He’s currently using GDELT to give world leaders advice on running their countries.

And now, it’s your turn. Go ahead and explore GDELT (and other public datasets) using BigQuery.

*Author’s Note: My biggest thanks to Kalev, Louisa and Amanda, as well as everyone at NOAA, L-3 Data Tactics, Cooley LLP, and Sean Murphy at the Data Innovation DC meetup group for their support in taping this video. Google Ideas, for sponsoring and getting GDELT online. And everyone behind the cameras at Google Cloud, the Google Developers Studio, 522 Productions in D.C., and Voice One in SF.

Ps: GDELT 2.0 was launched after the video was taped — check all its new features!